Rain drops, chilly drafts, and hot, humid days. Biloxi Public Works employees say they've felt it all after working for years in an old building on Delauney Street. Now, they are moving into a new $8.5 million complex. The employees are loving their larger, safer, and more comfortable quarters.
Christy LeBatard is still settling in to her new office. The Biloxi city engineer spent more than a decade working out of the old, dilapidated building right across the street.
"The building we were in before was kind of rundown, so everybody's much more excited to come to work, get to come to these nice new offices. It doesn't rain on our heads anymore," said LeBatard.
That's because the former Public Works building was once a lumber warehouse that was built in the 1940s.
"It never functioned well. We had problems with heating and air conditioning, leaking roofs, critters, raccoons, rats. Everything kind of getting in there, which was always fun for the ladies," said Public Works Director Dan Gaillet.
Before that, the Public Works Department operated out of an old city barn in east Biloxi. Now, the department has its first professional building. It features a more spacious layout for the public to meet with the staff, energy efficient lighting, and new amenities.
"This is something we haven't had before, it's a training room for the employees, something to be proud of," said Gaillet.
More than 100-employees are working in the Administration Building. Three other buildings are part of the huge complex. Next door, the warehouse for supplies is also finished. Across the way, the shop building is under construction. The space will be used for making signs, repairs, and for port services. And the old public works building will be torn down any day now so a vehicle maintenance building can go up.
"So we'll have about 78,000 square feet of new building by the time we get done, so it's very exciting for us. It's making our lives a lot easier, and hopefully, better service to the public," said Gaillet.
"Oh, it improves morale a lot. Everybody's excited to come to a nice new clean building," said LeBatard.
The last two buildings should be finished by next summer. All four buildings are designed to withstand hurricane-force winds, so during a severe storm, the employees can continue operating out of the complex. FEMA is paying for the entire project.